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Warning to Prospective Parents: Swindle Foster Kids’ Money and Face Jail Time

News that a Tampa, Florida, area couple allegedly stole more than $400,000 from a foster child’s life insurance payout reveals how society’s most vulnerable children remain susceptible – even while in a system designed to protect them or once they’ve aged out and are on their own.

To prospective parents the indictment against the Davenport, Florida, couple also should stand as a warning to those who would swindle money from kids who need it badly: Get caught, and jail time may await.

According to news reports, Radhames Antonio Oropeza, 53, and Asia Concepcion Oropeza, 52, are said to have invited to Florida a foster child whose mother had died, and whose father was in jail. The child was given the proceeds of a $400,000 life insurance policy when he turned 18. The young man’s name has not been released.

Authorities claim the couple convinced the boy he was making real estate investments. The couple faces charges of conspiring to commit fraud and wire fraud.

Several key lessons emerge from this sad tale. First, states’ foster care systems and the authorities who run them and approve foster parents must do a better job screening applicants and reviewing such adoption cases to ascertain the motives and intentions of prospective adoptive parents. These are society’s most vulnerable kids. Tragically the authorities who approved the adoption did not know the couple’s true motives.

Second, just because kids age out of foster care at 18 doesn’t mean they’re ready to handle their finances. We suggest children and concerned caregivers read Florida’s Children First’s Frequently Asked Questions for Foster Youth Transitioning to Adulthood. FloridaChildAdvocate.com in the past has called for improved foster child financial awareness. We renew that call today.

Finally, with heightened awareness and oversight, foster parents who attempt to defraud these children and young adults will get caught and pay the price.

In this case, if the couple is found guilty they could face up to 20 years in prison. This would be not just for the crime they allegedly committed, but as a warning to others who would adopt foster kids as a way to gain financial rewards.

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